The National Football League has the highest per-game attendance of any domestic professional sports league in the world.
The league’s power to generate revenue is second to none. A thirty second commercial during the Steelers’ last Super Bowl victory in 2006 would have cost $2.5 million. The viewing figures for the Super Bowl are usually the highest for any programme during the year.
So why is it that in the supreme capitalist country in the world, its most popular sport, pro football, practices socialism?
Revenue sharing between the teams has always been an integral part of the NFL’s foundation. The huge television fees that pay the players’ high wages are split evenly between all the teams.
This ensures that “small market” cities like Green Bay and Pittsburgh can compete on an almost level playing field with their bigger brothers. It provides the basis for all the teams to be competitive. The rest is up to the management, players and coaches.
The NFL’s carry their socialist principles over to the draft. The worst team, from the year before, gets the first pick in each round from the best players coming out of college. Naturally the champions get to pick, but they have the last choice in each round.
The NFL even scrutinise the strength of each teams and to a degree, schedule weak teams against other weak teams the following season. The inter-division games are obviously set in concrete.
In 1994, the owners and players associations agreed another innovative deal with the introduction of a salary cap. Designed to keep player salaries from spiraling too high, the cap restricts each team’s wage bill to the same amount and for 2008, it will be $116 million.
The rules of this powerful club have guaranteed that the sport has gone from strength to strength. It now generates a turnover of $6 billion a year. That is a huge amount of dollars for a business to earn.
Its attraction has now traveled across continents and with the second regular season game due again at Wembley this October, the UK fan base is sure to duplicate the NFL's past and increase in numbers.